You feel the goosebumps up and down your arms and the tears begin to flow unexpectedly. That moment – the moment that arrives with no warning. You are caught off guard and that is the beauty of it all. You can’t plan for the moment – or it’s ruined by the fact that you tried. You can’t know what the moment will be – because in knowing the moment won’t be the moment.
I, as a slight control freak, generally do not like surprises. My mind has the events of the day planned out weeks in advanced in excruciating detail with my iPad calendar(s) – yes, plural as a back up. No judgments, please. Deviating from the plan doesn’t come easily for me.
But there is one kind of surprise I love. When we took a trip as a family out West two years ago – I saw a sunset that lasted for hours as we drove through the flat desert in Arizona. It was absolutely amazing. I had no clue one of my most favorite memories would be found that day as we loaded the car at Phoenix and headed for San Diego.
That was one of many such surprises. I thought when we arrived at the National Park and got settled into our hotel room we would grab a couple of chairs off the deck and head 100 feet away and sit at the rim of the Grand Canyon.
Imagine my surprise at realizing there were buses that drove you to stops and even at each stop – you can only see part of the Grand Canyon! It’s so huge you only see a bit of it at a time! Who knew? Certainly not me! And, just in case your wondering, it’s not smooth either. It’s edges have layers and layers of sheer beautifulness. Only from the airplane could I gasp in wonder at the hugeness of the Grand Canyon.
I was also surprised – in a knot in your stomach kind of way – when we were at Hollywood. All that glamour and glitz you see on TV? Fake. Maybe you are smarter than me and already knew that. But, my heart was broken as we walked on the stars and saw homelessness, brokenness and pain.
I can never return to the West and experience the trip the way I did again. Even if I stayed in the same hotels or traveled the same route. The fact that I had never been there before and I didn’t know what to expect, made the trip what it was.
So, sitting in the midst of yet another snowstorm in Ohio in the middle of February, I was not expecting one of those moments – the kind you will think back over when you are old and gray with a tear in your eye. Stop rolling your eyes, I’m being serious.
As she began to sing I sat in amazement at the beauty of not only her voice but the way she flowed across the stage with confidence and grace. As the song progressed the tears began to flow. I was so proud of her. I couldn’t believe my quiet, reserved daughter was performing a solo in front of a crowd. I could see my caterpillar turning into a butterfly right before my eyes.
She was doing something I couldn’t teach her. She was finding her voice and becoming who God made her, uniquely to be. And it was a beautiful, unexpected moment that I got to see. I don’t know how she overcame her fear – but overcome she did!
As a young six year old in ballet, she froze at a performance and all the begging and bribing I did wouldn’t convince her to step away from the wall and perform. Late she told me through tears it was because I was there. She was too nervous because I was watching. It kind of broke my heart, I wondered if I put too much pressure on her. Didn’t she understand I was her biggest fan? If she succeeded or if she fell flat on her face, I would love her for trying!
My mind has stitched those two memories together. I can see the little girl in her tu-tu wide eyed and hiding her face in my lap and then I can see my beautiful 15 year old who has blossomed into more than I could have imagined. And that is why 2pm on a cold February afternoon a surprise moment occurred. I got to hear my angel sing for the first time. And just like the hour long sunset – it was so much more beautiful that I could have ever imagined.